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7 hype strains without cookies in them

It’s that time of year when the world’s best cultivators and breeders prep the latest and greatest flavors of the moment for the harvest season.

But this time Leafly issued a challenge: round up some hot new strains not linked to the dominant GSC family of cultivars. No Gelato crosses are allowed. No Sunset Sherbert, no Animal Mints, and no Wedding Cake allowed either. So I ventured north on a quest to diversify Leafly editors’ palette before it was too late. But thankfully, it was just the right time of year.

One of the reasons fall is so exciting is because many people will use the beginning of the year to hunt for great new varieties. So by the time we get to the big fall harvest, we’re talking about the newest wave of primo potential. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of great seed companies’ breeding programs run indoors—the plants never see the sun until propagation, if ever. While we’ll give a couple of can’t-miss indoor killers some love, most of the work done to create this list happened in the hills of northern California.

Equilibrium Genetics: Maui Pineapple

Maui Pineapple (Courtesy Equilibrium Genetics)
Maui Pineapple (Courtesy Equilibrium Genetics)

We love underrated seed companies here at Leafly, and Equilibrium is certainly one of them. First in Santa Cruz and not in The Emerald Triangle, Equilibrium Genetics has been pumping out killers for years. The most famous offering likely being the Malawi Confidential that Royal Key Organics dominated the L.A. flower market with. The newest varietal they’re excited about is Maui Pineapple. It brings together Swami Seeds’ 1979 Cherry Bomb Maui with a Laytonville Pineapple Headband that provided the pollen for the project. Expect to see the Maui Pineapple at the end of harvest season—it leans sativa and finishes late.

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Alien Labs: Gemini

Alien Labs Gemini(Jimi Devine/Leafly)
Alien Labs Gemini (Jimi Devine/Leafly)

The Gemini is heat. Alien Labs had a big summer with billboards and whatnot in Sacramento celebrating its new strain Biskante with Dracula-weed hype. In addition to that, the runner-up place at Zalypmix was certainly nothing to take lightly in a field of 16 of California’s best cultivators. But the Summer of Biskante is wrapping up and the Fall of Gemini is about to begin. What sounds like a bad day for NASA is actually so heat I forgot I smoked it. I’m usually super analytical about this stuff, but I mentioned I was including it here to the homie and he said, “Oh yeah, remember when we smoked that in Sacramento.” It was brutal. While Alien Labs is keeping genetics close to their chest these days to prevent imitators, Gemini is certainly an homage to the fiery OGs like Lemon Fuel that helped make Alien Labs famous during the medical era. But expect an extra bit of funk on top compared to your standard OG.

Jungle Boys: SFVTK

SFVTK (Courtesy Jungle Boys)
SFVTK (Courtesy Jungle Boys)

The Jungle Boys are famous for producing some of the best cannabis in Los Angeles in their facilities. One of the things that helped them earn that feather in their cap is the quality of the genetics they’ve worked with over the years. Whether their first propagation back in the day to find the WiFi, or their own in-house breeding work, they’ve seen a lot of great results over the years. Their recent work with Triangle Kush only added to the pedigree of everything. Many would claim the Triangle Kush is the original OG that made its way to LA. Of that pack of new strains produced by the work, we had to lean on the SFV-TK. It’s a pairing of San Fernando Valley OG Kush and Triangle Kush and basically one of those Super OG’s that have a lot of pine and other things going on over the fuel notes in the aroma. It’s certainly a proper OG high, non-drowsy but plenty of impact.

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Molecular Farms: Peach Preserves

Peach Preserves (Courtesy Molecular Farms)
Peach Preserves (Courtesy Molecular Farms)

When speaking on exotic terpene profiles, there are few more interesting at the moment than Peach Preserves. What makes it so special? The Molecular Farms-bred and Phytologie-grown strain was literally the most unique entry at the Emerald Cup last year. The folks at SC Labs who handle all the cup testing said its terpene profile was the furthest outlying of anything entered. So essentially in a world where everyone is growing a lot of the same genetics, it’s the most unique thing that popped up. The actual aroma itself is very different, almost like fruit and animal feces. But when you roll it up it all blends into a pleasant but not overpowering flavor like something gassier, or the all detergent terps starting to pop off. The high is certainly a productive one, expect more of a cerebral experience than a full-bodied one.

Symbiotic Genetics: Champaya

Champaya (Courtesy Symbiotic Genetics)
Champaya (Courtesy Symbiotic Genetics)

After launching some of the biggest waves of the 2010s when they pumped out Purple Punch seeds for the masses and then went on to breed Mimosa, people are always fascinated with what Budologist and The Village are up to at Symbiotic Genetics. This year, Champaya is the pony the team is betting big on. The strain brings together Papaya with their famed Mimosa V6. Symbiotic made the seeds about a year ago but are currently in the process of hunting for their favorite new cross with Lady Bug Farms. Expect the winner to really be something special.

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Dying Breed: Sweet Serenade

Sweet Serenade babies ready to take off. (via Jimi Devine)
Sweet Serenade babies ready to take off. (via Jimi Devine)

How could a pairing of two of the biggest cuts of the last decade in Mendocino not make the list? OG Eddy would backbone one of the pairings of the decade in OZ Kush. These days, tons of companies work with Dying Breed Seeds and change the name, but the original OZK still holds up strong, as clearly seen with the popularity of Wonderbrett’s version. The Roze technically was more award-winning but better isn’t the right word. The premier offering from the second generation of Zkittlez crosses would win the breeders cup at the 2017 Emerald Cup and finish second place overall. The final decision between Roze and Lemon Crush that year was said to be one of the great Emerald Cup judging debates. So when you’re talking about Sweet Serenade, you have to understand it comes from a genetic lineage so elite even most cannabis enthusiasts would need a flow chart to get it.

Cali-X: Shortcake

One of the sweetest offerings on the list without a doubt, Cali-X’s Shortcake brings together Raspberry Kush with the icon from across the pond Cheese. Except for the Blue Cheese that featured a pairing with DJ Short’s Blueberry, I haven’t found many Cheese crosses to fit the sweet bill. I don’t want it to sound like I’m putting the Shortcake under the standard San Francisco dessert weed billing like the Gelatos or Sherberts that dominate our mind when we hear that phrase, but it would certainly come out on the same cart after dinner.

Jimi Devine's Bio Image
Jimi Devine

Jimi Devine has been involved in cannabis law reform since 2005, and has worked in the Berkeley cannabis industry since 2009, when he moved to California from Lynn, Massachusetts. Currently serving as LA Weekly's cannabis columnist, he's also written for the San Francisco Chronicle's Green State, Cannabis Now Magazine, High Times, 7x7 Magazine, and in Ed Rosenthal's recent book, This Bud's for You. Jimi has a BA in journalism and media studies from Franklin Pierce University.

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